We could model presidential debates on 'American Idol'
© by Barbara Anderson

The Salem News
Thursday, June 4, 2015


Not that I’m counting the days until Barack Obama is no longer president but ... since it’s only 17 months until the presidential election, I guess it’s time to start paying attention to the race for his successor.

It’s hard to find a place to be serious about the Democratic primary, with the choice among a woman who thinks she’s entitled to the nomination despite layers of financial scandal, a self-described socialist, and the recent former mayor of dysfunctional Baltimore. I must say that if I see one more woman-in-the-street interview with someone who has nothing to say but “I support Hillary because it’s time for a woman president,” I may have to consider one of those sex-change things to separate myself from silly women.

What on earth does that mean, “it’s time for a woman president?” Any woman? Hillary, Carly Fiorina, Nancy Pelosi, Sarah Palin, the present mayor of Baltimore, (Bruce) Caitlyn Jenner, Joan “hike the income tax rate” Lovely, me? Any one of us is fine as long as she’s not a man? Good grief.

One does occasionally hear men make that same statement, but my theory is that they are pandering to silly women in order to get (considered for mating).

I’ve heard that former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb was considering a run; he’d be a good candidate for the rational wing of the Democratic Party. I also don’t dismiss Vice President Joe Biden, who has dealt so admirably with so much family adversity. Five people on a primary debate stage would be about right.

However, the Republican debate stage is already a tad crowded, with nine declared candidates (as I write this) and at least seven more who seem to be serious about running.

As a serious voter, albeit an independent, who always looks forward to political debates, I feel I should try to be useful to the Republican Party and debate sponsors, who are struggling to find a format that can work.

The first debate, on Aug. 6, is on Fox News; the plan is to include just the top 10 candidates in an average of five national polls. So, what we’ll see is candidates doing something intense, possibly even crazy, to hit the news cycle during the polling of citizens with, in general, the attentions span of goldfish, except when watching “American Idol.”

Wait! I have an idea! Let me run this by you: “American Idol President.”

Say there are 16 declared candidates. First, eliminate the ridiculous, like Donald Trump. I’d have a criteria: no hairpieces. We need a president who is totally focused on the United States of America, not his hair. Bald is fine.

I know there’s been discussion of avoiding “social issues” but that’s probably asking too much of some candidates. Voters have a right to know who might use the abortion issue as a litmus test for Supreme Court nominees, but hopefully all Republicans realize that the gay marriage discussion is over and any question about contraception by a moderator should be scornfully dismissed with “Who do you think you are, George ‘the hack’ Stephanopoulos?”

I’d use just one criteria: all debate-included candidates must accept the theory of evolution, along with the theory of gravity. These are not controversial to the rational mind that a president must have. Man-made climate change is still controversial and worth including in debate; I’d like to know what each candidate thinks about it.

Assuming that even those who once expressed doubt about evolution have since read Richard Dawkins’ “The Greatest Show on Earth,” there are now 15 candidates for my “American Idol Presidential Debates.” If the Democrats have five, I’d break the Republicans into groups of five each, for three prime-time, heavily advertised debates in September. You could do it alphabetically. Debate One: Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz and Carly Fiorina.

Debate Two: Lindsey Graham, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, John Kasich and George Pataki. Debate Three: Rand Paul, Rick Perry, Marco Rubio, Rick Santorum and Scott Walker.

Voters would call in their choice each time, which isn’t scientifically perfect but gives a sense of a candidate’s organizational ability as well as popularity. If despite Rand Paul’s best efforts, the NSA is still around, it could report any number that called more than once.

Imagine this: The rest of the primary debates among the three “Idol" winners (write in your own present favorites here). Maybe add the two other highest votes in the series.

Alternately, you could set up the “Idol” debates by categories: can’t-win-the-general-election social conservatives Huckabee and Santorum. Constitutional conservatives: Carson, Cruz, Paul. Governors Bush, Christie, Jindal, Kasich, Pataki, Perry, Walker (seven too many even with Huckabee not included?). Not sure where to put Rubio, Fiorina and Graham: maybe move Bush, Pataki in with them for a fourth “Idol” debate?

If this were Democrats there’d be a politically correct, choose-for-the-wrong- reasons category: Fiorina (woman), Cruz and Rubio (Hispanic), Carson and Jindal (other minority). But Republicans wouldn’t consider this sexist/racist foolishness.

So with my plan, final primary debates would be among three or four “Idol” winners, one or two others who are doing well in national polls. Primary voters would have a good choice among candidates they’d had a chance to get to know. Others, including newcomers, could still be on the ballot, of course.

During a recent appearance in New Hampshire, broadcast on WRKO, Ted Cruz was given another good idea by a woman in the audience: declare that if you win the primary, you will appoint other Republican candidates and popular qualified activists to work in your administration (e.g.; Ben Carson, secretary of Health and Human Services; Carly Fiorina, secretary of labor; John Bolton, secretary of state), thereby keeping their supporters enthusiastic workers in your campaign.

Sen. Cruz thought this sounded great; he said he never says anything negative about the other candidates anyhow.

Chip went to see him at an event held at state Rep. Jim Lyon’s barn last weekend, and was very impressed. I am still undecided, waiting for the debates.

Barbara Anderson of Marblehead is president of Citizens for Limited Taxation and a Salem News columnist.

The comments made and opinions expressed in her columns are those of Barbara Anderson
and do not necessarily reflect those of Citizens for Limited Taxation.

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